Understanding Cat Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

· 4 min read
a cat laying on a chair eating catnip


Constipation is a common health issue among cats. While hairballs are a well-known cause of constipation in felines, there are other less recognized factors that can lead to this condition. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, signs and symptoms, treatment options, and prevention methods for feline constipation.

Understanding Cat Constipation: Causes of constipation in cats (beyond hairballs)

Cats may experience constipation due to various reasons. Some common causes include:

  1. Dehydration or insufficient water intake
  2. Dietary factors such as low fiber content or eating dry food exclusively
  3. Neurological issues affecting the colon's muscle contractions
  4. Obesity or inactivity
  5. Stress or anxiety
  6. Certain medications or medical conditions like inflammatory bowel disease

Signs and Symptoms of Constipation in Cats (How to Tell if Your Cat is Constipated)

Recognizing the signs of constipation in cats can help you provide prompt care:

  1. Straining during defecation or passing small amounts of feces
  2. Hard, dry, or infrequent stools
  3. Bloody stools
  4. Vocalization during bowel movements
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Lethargy and inactivity
  7. Hiding or avoiding the litter box

When to See a Veterinarian for Your Cat's Constipation (Distinguishing Between Mild and Severe Constipation)

It is essential to consult a veterinarian if your cat exhibits severe constipation symptoms, such as:

  • Straining unsuccessfully for extended periods
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain or swelling

Treating Constipation in Cats: Diet and Hydration Modifications

Dietary modifications and increased water intake are essential in preventing and treating constipation in cats:

  1. Incorporate fiber-rich foods like pumpkin, carrots, or peas into your cat's diet
  2. Offer canned food to ensure adequate hydration
  3. Provide access to clean, fresh water at all times
  4. Gradually introduce new foods and make changes to the diet over several days to prevent digestive upset.

Treating Constipation in Cats: Medications and Supplements

If lifestyle modifications are insufficient, your veterinarian may recommend medications or supplements for constipation relief:

  1. Stool softeners like lactulose or psyllium husk
  2. Laxatives like bisacodyl or magnesium sulfate
  3. Lubricants like mineral oil
  4. Enemas for severe cases
  5. Probiotics and prebiotics to promote gut health

Preventing Constipation in Cats: Regular Exercise and Stress Management

Prevention is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system in cats. Encourage regular exercise and stress management techniques, such as:

  1. Provide ample opportunities for physical activity, including interactive toys and play sessions
  2. Maintain a predictable routine to minimize anxiety and stress
  3. Use calming pheromones or herbal remedies for anxious cats
  4. Monitor and address potential stressors in your cat's environment

Conclusion: Providing Comprehensive Care for Your Cat's Digestive Health

Understanding the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and prevention methods for feline constipation can help ensure that your cat stays healthy and happy. By recognizing the signs of constipation early and addressing underlying issues, you can keep your cat's digestive system functioning optimally. Remember, if in doubt, always consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Frequently asked questions

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Look through our FAQs to find answers to our most commonly asked questions.

What is constipation in cats and what causes it?
Constipation in cats refers to infrequent, hard or difficult bowel movements. Causes include dehydration, dietary factors, neurological issues, obesity, stress, certain medications, and medical conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of constipation in cats?
Signs and symptoms include straining during defecation, hard or dry stools, vocalization during bowel movements, loss of appetite, lethargy, hiding from the litter box, and blood in the stool.
How can I tell if my cat's constipation is severe?
Severe constipation symptoms include straining unsuccessfully for extended periods, vomiting or diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, abdominal pain or swelling. If your cat displays any of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian.
What is the treatment for constipation in cats?
Treatment includes dietary modifications (incorporating fiber-rich foods and offering canned food), hydration modifications (providing clean water at all times), and medications or supplements if necessary. Severe cases may require enemas or laxatives.
How can I prevent constipation in my cat?
Prevention includes ensuring a fiber-rich diet, offering adequate hydration, regular exercise, and stress management techniques like maintaining a routine, using calming pheromones or herbal remedies for anxious cats, and addressing potential stressors.
Can hairballs cause constipation in cats?
Yes, hairballs can contribute to constipation in cats by obstructing the digestive tract or causing hard stools due to the ingested fur. However, other factors like dehydration and dietary deficiencies can also lead to constipation.
How often should a cat poop?
A healthy cat will typically have one bowel movement per day, but frequency may vary depending on the individual cat's needs and diet. If you notice significant changes in your cat's stool consistency or defecation patterns, consult a veterinarian.
What are fiber-rich foods for cats?
Fiber-rich foods for cats include pumpkin, carrots, peas, and canned food with high fiber content. Ensure that your cat receives adequate fiber in their diet to maintain healthy digestion and prevent constipation.
What should I do if my cat is constipated?
Monitor your cat's symptoms, offer increased water intake, modify their diet with fiber-rich foods, and consult a veterinarian for professional advice and treatment options. Severe cases may require hospitalization or medications to relieve constipation.